Someone has said, "Praise the Lord anyhow." Are your circumstances difficult? Is your spirit downcast? Well, praise the Lord anyhow. This, they say, is the "sacrifice of praise" spoken of in Hebrews 13:15. They say that sacrifice is something we give because we know it's the right thing to do-- even though it is difficult for us and something we are reluctant to give.
Then someone else said that the sacrifice the Lord required of His chosen people was the best that they had--the choicest animal, healthy and unblemished. They contend that the "praise God anyhow" mentality leads to a sacrifice of praise that isn't in accord with the best we have to offer our Almighty God; that it is looking at sacrifice the way we define the term now rather than the way it is defined in Scripture.
As I thought about these two views I said to myself, "When I bring my sacrifice of praise I do want it to be the best I have to lift up to my Lord. Still, though, when I am downcast praise does not flow from me as it does when I am happy. When I am downcast and I attempt to offer up jubilant praise, I feel as if I am just mouthing words and not praising in the true sense."
Then another fact of sacrifice came to me. In Leviticus 5:7, 12:8, and 14:22 provision is made for the poor who are unable to afford the required lamb for sacrifice. Those who were poor could bring turtledoves or pigeons instead. This is what Mary and Joseph did in Luke 2:24 after Jesus' birth.
When I am poor in spirit, then, I can still offer up true, heartfelt, sincere words of adoration and praise to my Lord. But it will be within my means. It won't look like the praise I offer when I am rich in spirit and can hardly contain my acclaim for Him. It will be turtledove praise, pigeon praise. It will be acceptable to Him and He will be blessed by it. And I will have maintained my honest relationship with Him.
But, still, He is deserving of more. Then I remembered the hymn lyrics: "O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise." Ah, I may have only a turtledove's tongue worth of praise, but as I join my praise with that of fellow believers it takes on bigger proportions. It's the same principle as "if everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be." Here is the answer for the poor in spirit, the one who would so much want to have more to offer the Master. More is available! As we tuck our downcast selves into a body of praising people our pigeon praise sacrifice joins with theirs and becomes a fragrant aroma to the One most worthy of our praise.
And He then "builds His throne" in the midst of that praise (Psalm 22:3) and poor-in-spirit me gets to bask in His presence and find myself getting richer and richer and richer. This must be what is happening in those times when I drag myself to a prayer group or a praise service only to exit dancing an hour or so later. He does indeed inhabit the praises of His people!
|BACK | NEXT | CONTENTS|